Kickoff Classic XX
Notre Dame finished the 2001 season at 5-6, a year after recording a 9-3 record and making its first-ever appearance in the Bowl Championship Series at the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. First-Year Irish Head Coach Tyrone Willingham hopes to turn Notre Dame's fortunes around quickly, as Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen was able to do in his first season with the Terrapins in 2001. Maryland finished last season at 10-2 overall and won the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) with a 7-1 record. The Terrapins completed the year ranked 10th in the ESPN/USA Today poll and 11th in the Associated Press poll.
This will mark the second appearance for Notre Dame in the Kickoff Classic, having beaten Virginia in 1989. It is the first appearance for Maryland. The game is the first-ever match-up between the two institutions.